Having considered the triumph of Christianity over the doctrine of Stoicism because it offered, salvation, a reliance on the personal (conscience) and democracy, we moved to consider the growth of humanism and we discussed the developments introduced by Descartes, Newton, Galileo, Copernicus and Kant. Now man himself was at the centre of the universe and the question of instinct was relegated below that of free will and how to exercise this for the benefit of mankind. The most interesting discussion of the week related to what is the essential difference between a man and an animal. We also considered the Sorites paradox (when is a heap of sand not a heap of sand?) and Zeno’s paradox and discussed the relative values of prescriptive and descriptive linguistics.
Our historical journey took us through some of the flashpoints of the mid seventeenth century and we leanred how the religious became politicised in England as well as the ways in which Protestants and Catholics clashed in Europe.
Another written task was due at the end of the week and this came from one of the following titles:
1. Is dislike of politicians a sensible default position?
2. Why is a leather jacket more acceptable than a fur coat?
3. Why do Jane Austen’s novels continue to be so popular?
4. Can any public and political institutions be trusted to reform themselves?
5. Is it an extremely unnatural condition for a male and female to live continuously together?
Our reading of Sir Gawain brought us to Fitt 4.